Welcome back! In the first article of this series, I began by discussing how you can take the C’s of successful polyamory and use them to solidify and spice up your monogamous relationship: comfort levels, consent, communication, couples’ counseling, and compersion. We’ve already discussed comfort and consent here, so now let's figure out how to use the benefits of polyamory in our relationships. Here are some other staples of good poly politics.
Responsible poly folks schedule regular check-ins and communicate their intentions and desires. Have you ever had someone beat you up during sex and then make you bacon afterwards? The bacon is called ‘after-care’, and it serves to reunite and reconnect people after what can be a disembodying experience. Think of communication in relationships in much the same way; in polyamory, it is important to check in regularly with your partner or date to make sure everyone feels good and comfortable about what is going on and their place in it.
Polyamory is not without hierarchy; it is often a good idea to schedule regular dates or special times with the more central relationships in your life so that they feel validated, taken care of, and appreciated. This is also an important element to bring to monogamous relationships—do you have regular date nights? Do you schedule time for intimacy, however it manifests? Some of my friends with the most successful monogamous relationships schedule time to have coffee and conversation at least once a week. Jealousy happens, even in the most put-together relationships. How do you show your partner that they are important to you? How do you like to be shown that you are important to them?
4) Couples’ Counseling
It’s not just for relationships in jeopardy! My theory has always been that therapy (sexual, retail, somatic, talk, hypno, whatever!) is necessary maintenance. The brain needs routine check-ups just like a Chevy, even if therapy just serves as a monthly hour of space that is entirely your own. The same is true for relationship health. Your friends can’t do everything, no matter how many times you call your childhood best friend to complain about how your truly beloved left the cap off the toothpaste for the millionth effing time.
Therapeutic professionals have been offering objective opinions to couples (both wrought with hard times or sailing smooth) forever, and scheduling therapy for you and yours guarantees that you have the support and space necessary to keep a relationship wrinkle-free. Whether you are in a couple or a triad, the additional direction and guidance will only be an advantage in the long run.
Long adopted by the poly community to mean the opposite of jealousy, compersion is a term that simply means happiness for another person. For me, it meant running into a date on a date with another date and feeling excited for how happy they looked. However, compersion is an important concept that can be carried into monogamous relationships with wonderful ease. Did your sweetie just win an important award for their amazing research on the human genome? Did they meet a new and exciting friend in their Introduction to Plant Taxonomy class and want to spend every waking moment with them? Be thrilled! You love your partner because they are amazing, dynamic, foxy, and extremely talented, and the world is rewarding them for their ingenuity.
Sure, it could come at a time when you are feeling less than incredible, but ultimately your partner’s successes are your successes, and figuring out your own way to conquer jealousy and practice compersion will go a long way in creating a sustainable relationship.
While you may still be debating if polyamory is for you or not, the fact of the matter is that good poly people have got communication and structure down pat. Even if you can’t get down with multiple people at once (or in succession!), you can benefit from the practices that have been keeping nontraditional partnerships together for centuries (really!), and can be on your way to a happier, more communication-driven monogamous relationship.